Why People Don’t Know that I am an Author

Another blogger brought up a very interesting point.  She pondered the question of why writers have a tendency to freeze up, lie, stutter, or, in essence, deny that they are writers. 

When someone asks me what I do, I don’t immediately shout “AUTHOR!” because of two very important reasons.  First, I have an evil day job.  Writing isn’t a “hobby,” it’s my life’s calling.  But since I have bills to pay, a roof to keep over my family’s head, and children to feed, I cannot rely on my one true passion in life to keep my family from starving.  So I just don’t bring it up.  And the 2nd reason why I don’t shout it to the stars, and perhaps the most important reason, is that all my published works have been written under a pen name.  Most people don’t even know what a pen name is.  I’d have to start off the conversation explaining what a pen name is and why authors use them.   And if I said, “Oh, yeah, I’m an author!” instead of saying, “I’m the manager for XYZ Company” then I have people wanting to know what I write.  So the explanation begins all about how I write erotic fantasy.  Cue the funny stares.  Questions continue about if I have anything in publication, what did I get published, what is it about, etc.  And finally I have to explain why they have never heard of my pen name, etc. 

Then there is the fact that I live square in the middle of the bible belt.  Somehow I don’t think telling people that I write erotic fantasy fiction is going to go over too well with the neighbors.  It brings up the problems of parents not wanting their children near my house because they, the parents,  cannot seem to separate fact (what actually does go on in my home) from the fantasies that I write about.  Let’s not leave out the problems it would bring up for me at work since I actually do have an evil day job.  And I’m not even going to get into the whole thing about how men seem to think that a woman writing erotic fantasy fiction is an open invitation to hit on them.

I see being an author as a lot like being a spy.  I wouldn’t announce to the whole world that I am a spy.  And as a writer who publishes under a pen name, I am not going to try to explain to perfect strangers what my pen name is, what I write about, and give them a detailed list of what is published where.  The only people who matter, my friends, family, and most importantly, my fans, already know who I am and what I do.  Trying to convince someone outside that loop that I am just as good as I say I am (and not in any way morally damaged) is pretty redundant.  It’s just easier to leave it out of the conversation.  And if I think that I absolutely have to explain myself to them, it’s much more rewarding to pull out my latest novel, autograph it for them, and hand it over with a smile.